Nest needs no introduction, especially when talking about home security. We had a chance to test the Nest Cam IQ, a home surveillance camera with facial recognition technology. Here are our experiences with using the device, and the scoop on its benefits over the competition.
- Design and build qualitiy
- Easy to install
- Good video and audio quality
- Good notifications
- Compatible with Google Assistant
- Too tied to Nest Aware
Release date and price
The Nest Cam IQ is available on the company's website and some others for a price of $299 for a single camera, or $498 for a pack of two. A one month free trial of Nest Aware, which allows you to take full advantage of the camera's features, is included.
What is Nest Aware?
The Nest Aware Basic subscription costs $10 per month ($100 per year) and offers access to 10 days of video history, intelligent alerts, video clips, time lapses and Activity Zones (areas where you wish to pay particular attention). If you want access to 30 days of history, you will have to opt for the Extended subscription which costs $30 per month ($300 per year).
A superfluous service? Not really. If you want to make the most of the camera, it is necessary. Without the Nest Aware subscription, you'll only receive activity alerts and photos of the last three hours of events. Nothing more.
Design and build quality
Upon opening the box, you'll find a small but sturdy white camera. The shape of it is dominated by the large black eye where the lens is located. When recording is in progress, the LED light turns green. When the camera is in use and during installation, a ring of light shines. These are the same blue and green lights familiar to those who have used Nest's other cameras and smoke detector.
The camera is mounted on the base in such a way that it can be pointed in any direction easily. In case you wondered, the camera does not adjust itself to follow moving objects. It features a speaker and three microphones.
The overall design of the camera is simple and clean. It feels like a solid device and can be positioned successfully in many parts of a home. I placed it in our office's "labquarium", where we test different devices and hide away to take photos and shoot videos. It's a perfect place to test the abilities of the Cam IQ thanks to the constant traffic in the room.
Out of the box, you just have to connect the camera's USB Type-C power cord to the wall socket, since it can't take batteries.
Installation is easy
First, you install the Nest app on your smartphone, then log into your account or create a new one if you have not already done so. Click on (+) and add the IQ Cam to the device list. You can scan the QR code at the base of the camera or manually select the device from the list and enter the code. That's what I had to do since my LG V30 did not want to take the QR code. Then, connect Cam IQ to your home Wi-Fi (broadband with a minimum speed of 2 Mbps).
Open the app to activate the camera, and then Big Brother's eye will be ready to detect new faces, voices and suspicious movements. From the app settings, tapping Away will let you activate the camera once you've left for the day. If you connect different profiles to the device, the camcorder will only activate once all the users have actually left home. Installation takes less than 10 minutes.
Let's get down to the details
The camera integrates a 4K HDR sensor with 8 MP and Supersight technology. This allows the camcorder to zoom to 12x automatically in order to capture people in the room, though you can't expect videos with this level of quality. The maximum video resolution is just 1080p at 30 frames per second. When movement is detected, the image is magnified and the 4K sensor then comes into play to improve the quality. From the app, you can then see close ups of who is coming and going with a tap.
The viewing angle is 130°, and during our test, it has proven to be able to frame the environment well and "follow" the intruders by showing them clearly in the videos available in the app. Nest Cam IQ, with Nest Aware, is able to distinguish people from objects and store friends' faces (you will have to tell the app if the faces detected are known or not) to notify you only in case of intruders. It's important to note again that facial recognition alerts only work with the Nest Aware subscription.
The infrared LED makes night vision not just possible, but of high quality. Compared to Nest Cam Indoor, the LEDs are twice as bright.
The Nest app
With the Nest app, you have the ability to take a peek in the room where you have the Cam IQ positioned and zoom in to see details. Depending on which subscription you choose, you'll have access to 10 or 30 days of video history. That means you camera will record continuously, saving the videos to the cloud while only the highlights are viewable on the app. If you don't choose a subscription, only the last three hours of activity highlights will be available.
If you have concerns over security, you'll be happy to find out that Nest saves videos in the cloud using 128-bit AES encryption.
By clicking the film icon on the right at the center of the screen, you can export your videos to create clips or time-lapses, but you will need to access the site through your PC. By selecting Go live on your PC (or Sightline on your mobile) you will be able to view the current scene and frighten the intruders by talking to them. I assure you it works: while I was at my desk upstairs, I saw my colleagues Eric and Irina go around the labquarium and I scared them with a voice message. They did not know that I was looking at them from the eye of the Cam IQ! On the People tab, you will find a list of detected faces and it will be up to you to mark them as familiar friends or strange intruders.
You can do the following from the Settings menu: turn the camera and microphone off or on manually or set a schedule (just like Nest's Indoor and Outdoor cams), manage notifications (push or email, always or just when you're out), video options (quality, bandwidth, night vision, etc) and audio and visual alerts that the device is running.
If you turn off your camera during use, you will see an "offline" alert in the app and you will receive a notification email (if you have previously activated it in the settings).
Like other cameras of the brand, it supports IFTTT and is therefore compatible with other Smart Home devices. Note also that Nest promised support for Google Assistant by the end of the year. Considering the absence of a dedicated button, you will probably have to say the magical words "Ok, Google" to use it. Cam IQ will turn into a small Google Home and will probably be able to play videos on Chromecast. We do not know how efficient it will be as a speaker, but according to the brand, it will be the first security camera with Google Assistant integrated.
The audio and picture quality of the camera doesn't disappoint. The smartphone notifications and emails arrive immediately, with lots of photos, anytime someone enters the room or speaks. To watch the video from your computer, you will just need to click the link in the email. The app is easy to use and quick.
The Nest Cam IQ gets really hot during use, likely because the camera is running all the time without breaks. Be careful where you place it and avoid curtains or paper lamps. While the overheating isn't so worrisome, it's still immediately noticeable to the touch.
The Nest Cam IQ has a loudspeaker and three built-in microphones to allow you to communicate with intruders clearly. Once a person is detected in the room, you'll get a notification on your phone and, with the Talk button, you can speak with them directly. When communication is in progress, the light ring around the camera will shine blue, and the audio is clear and noise-free. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality.
The Nest Cam IQ is a great home surveillance camera. The design and features are both pleasing. It does what it sets out to do well, without sacrifices in audio or video quality. The ability to register friends' faces and zoom for close-ups are two things that separate the Cam IQ from its competition. Nest has once again proven its ability to meet the Smart Home and security needs of users. With the forthcoming arrival of Google Assistant support, its capabilities will only expand.
The main drawback seems to the price. Does anyone really want to shell out $299 and pay a subscription fee for Nest Aware? Nest should consider lowering the price of the hardware, or offsetting the price of the device by offering a longer free trial period for the additional features.
Of course, there are more affordable security cameras on the market. Nest itself offers the Cam Indoor for $199 (and subscription fees), but it doesn't offer facial recognition.
What do you think about Cam IQ? Would you buy it?